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Amgen Posts Quadrupling of Its Profit

California and the West

The drug maker earns $967million. Revenue rises 16% to $3.2 billion, but sales of three key products fall short of analysts' expectations.

October 20, 2005|Denise Gellene | Times Staff Writer

Biotechnology giant Amgen Inc. reported sharply higher third-quarter earnings Wednesday, led by sales of its anemia drug Aranesp.

The Thousand Oaks-based company had earnings of $967 million, or 77 cents a share, compared with $236 million, or 18 cents, for the year-earlier quarter, when results where hurt by charges related to the acquisition of Tularik Inc. of South San Francisco.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday October 21, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Amgen sales -- An article in Thursday's Business section about Amgen Inc.'s earnings said Enbrel, a drug for rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases, had sales of $688 million in the third quarter. The drug had third-quarter sales of $668 million.

Revenue increased 16% to $3.2 billion from $2.6 billion in the third quarter of 2004.

"Our performance was strong and gives us real momentum as we look toward 2006," Chairman and Chief Executive Kevin Sharer said during a conference call.

But investors punished Amgen's stock because sales fell short of expectations. The shares fell to $74.48 in late trading after ending the regular session at $78.09, up $2.22. Amgen released its third-quarter results after the close of regular trading.

Excluding charges related to acquisitions, Amgen said that it had net income of $1.1 billion, or 85 cents a share, compared with $839 million, or 64 cents, in the same quarter a year ago.

Although Amgen's net income was in line with expectations, sales of three key drugs -- Aranesp, Neulasta and Epogen -- fell short of Wall Street forecasts.

Sales of Epogen, Amgen's mainstay drug, plunged 12% from the same quarter last year to $599 million. Amgen said patients switching to Aranesp hurt Epogen, an anemia drug sold exclusively to kidney dialysis patients.

Aranesp sales rose 38% to $840 million, slightly below Wall Street estimates. The drug is used mostly by cancer patients suffering from anemia brought on by chemotherapy.

Sales of Neulasta, a drug that spurs production of white blood cells, rose 28% to $577 million, below Wall Street forecasts of $600 million. Cancer patients weakened by chemotherapy take the drug to fight infections.

Sales of Enbrel, Amgen's drug for rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases, rose 35% to $688 million, in line with expectations.

Sharer said that Amgen would "aggressively fight" an antitrust suit filed against the company last week by Johnson & Johnson. But he refused to give detailed answers to questions about the suit -- or the sale contracts that sparked the litigation.

The suit alleges that Amgen is illegally using discounts on white blood cell drugs, where Amgen has a monopoly, to drive sales of Aranesp and force a competing J&J anemia drug from the market.

"We are confident of the legality of our contracts," Sharer said.

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